Portsmouth hit with transfer ban

By Simon Austin

Eugen Bopp
Bopp is a free agent after being released by Crewe in the summer

Portsmouth have been banned from making new signings until they settle transfer debts owed to other English clubs.

The Premier League blocked Pompey manager Paul Hart’s attempt to sign midfielder Eugen Bopp on Monday.

And they will not lift the ban until the club, who are bottom of the Premier League, have settled their debts.

Portsmouth spokesman Gary Double said the problem “should be resolved quickly” but the ban will raise fresh questions about the club’s finances.

“This is in the process of being sorted and we are confident the situation will be sorted by the end of the week,” Double said.

Saudi businessman Ali Al Faraj took over at Portsmouth three weeks ago, buying a 90% stake from previous owner Sulaiman Al Fahim.

Last week, Al Faraj was quoted in the Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat as saying he was “no billionaire”, knew nothing about sport and wanted to sell the club quickly.

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Israeli mogul Levi Kushnir and Hong Kong-based Balram Chainrai have subsequently emerged as potential investors in the club and have attended Pompey’s last two matches, Tuesday’s 4-0 Carling Cup win over Stoke and Saturday’s 0-0 league draw at Hull.

Another short transfer ban was imposed on the club at the end of August because of debts they owed, BBC Sport understands.

With seven players unavailable for the Stoke game, Hart was eager to sign Bopp, who he had managed at Nottingham Forest.

The 26-year-old, who was a free agent after being released by Crewe in the summer, had been training with Portsmouth for the last few weeks.

However, the Premier League refused to register the player because of Portsmouth’s debts.

The transfer ban is the latest in a long line of off-the-field problems for manager Hart.

There was a delay in the players’ wages being paid in September, while the club was on the brink of administration in August.

“A club needs to know where it is going and have a long-term plan,” stated Hart ahead of the game with Stoke.

“I wouldn’t like to go any further with that because I haven’t had these conversations with the new owners. I would anticipate this would be in the next month.”

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